More than 300 community members attended the historic inauguration of Assemblyman Steven Raga as the first Filipino American elected to office in New York state.
Many who attended the swearing-in event at the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park wore traditional and cultural attire to the event at the building that once housed the General Assembly of the newly formed United Nations from 1946 to 1950 until its current home in Manhattan became available for the world body.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer administered the Ceremonial Oath of Office on Jan. 15.
“I know Assembly member Steven Raga will continue the fine tradition of Filipino Americans in public service in our nation, as he broke the glass ceiling becoming the first-ever Filipino Americans to be elected in New York state,” Schumer said. “And it’s not surprising why voters of all backgrounds chose Steven to become their next Assembly member.”
Raga defeated Republican Sean Lally to represent District 30 after former Assemblyman Brian Barnwell announced he was stepping down. After being administered the Oath of Office, Raga reflected on his journey to elected office, as well as his early upbringing growing up in an immigrant single-mother household.
“Today, I am humbled by the outpour of support, filled with gratitude for the duty that you have entrusted upon me, and excited about the possibilities for collaboration and working toward a better Assembly District 30 and New York state,” Raga said.
Speakers at the inauguration included federal, state and city elected officials, including Congresswoman Grace Meng.
“I’m proud to have encouraged Steven to seek this position and serve our borough in elected office,” Meng said. “I congratulate him for this historic feat for the Asian American community and for Queens. I am more than confident that Assembly member Raga will deliver, advocate and fight for his constituents in the 30th Assembly District and I look forward to working with him to deliver support for the families of Queens and our shared constituencies.”
Following two decades of public service, most recently as executive director of Woodside on the Move. Raga now represents a district including Woodside, Elmhurst, Maspeth and Middle Village as well as parts of Jackson Heights and Astoria.
“Assembly member Raga made history as the first Filipino American elected to the state Assembly, but I know making a difference for area families — including our AAPI families in District 30 who finally see themselves represented in the halls of government — is his sole priority,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “I look forward to working with Assemblyman Raga on countless issues, from transportation to housing and beyond, on behalf of the residents we are both sworn to serve.”
The event included cultural performances and a poetry reading by Maspeth’s Vincent Tomeo.
“This is a historic day. The Filipino community has done so much for New York, our city, our state and indeed our nation,” state Senator John Liu said. “The community continues to grow by leaps and bounds. I am honored and look forward to serving our respective communities and representing the Asian American community in the chambers of Albany alongside the first-ever Filipino American to be elected in New York state.”